Jarrod Lyle discusses tournament return
BY Bruce Young | 09 Jul 2014
Jarrod Lyle returns to tournament golf later this month when he plays the first of three Web.Com Tour events in Kansas City.
This morning Lyle spoke via teleconference to the media to discuss his comeback and the current state of his health.
“Health wise there’s no issues at all,” said Lyle from his home in Florida. “I’ve been really good for a long time now, so it’s nice to almost put that behind you and just move on to concentrate on your golf a little bit more.
“We got back over here on June 16 and we’ve just been getting acclimatized to the heat. It’s a big change coming from the winters of Torquay to the heat of Orlando so that’s taken us a while to get used to that, and plus we had to pretty much unpack all the boxes at our house of things that were packed up when I’d left and things.
“So we’ve been busy sort of running around sort of getting the house set up again, and yeah, combining that with some practice, as well, so I’ve been out there sort of every second day practicing for about four hours a day and getting out there really early trying to beat the heat, and trying to get ourselves ready for that first tournament in a couple weeks.
“I think my schedule is going to be a lot different this time around. I won’t know how my body is going to hold up until I actually get out there and start playing golf.
“I’ve targeted these three events for the fact that they’re three tournaments that are relatively close together, so traveling to them is not going to be too big of an issue, plus I’ve also scheduled one week, then a week off, then two weeks, to see how I can cope with two weeks of golf in some pretty hot conditions, as well.
“Everything I’m doing is planning for my return to the PGA TOUR. I’d love to be able to go out and play as good as I can in these three events and hopefully knock off a couple of good finishes. But if I don’t, again, it’s just going to be a learning curve like it was at the Australian Masters last year and the Vic Open, as well.
“It gives me enough time after these three events to go work on anything that might need to be worked on. Anything that needs fixing I’ve got enough time to fix it before we head across to the West Coast to start over there."
Lyle will be traveling by road with his wife Briony and their 2 year old daughter Lusi in their RV and he is looking forward to getting back on the road.
“It’s something that Bri has always wanted to do, and I think with Lusi being two years old now, it’ll be nice for all three of us to see a lot more of the countryside than we would if we were just going to airports and hotels and golf courses.
“We thought about it for a long time, and then probably about six months ago, we decided that we were going to do it, so we’re just going to take off and it’s going to take us about four days, so we’re giving ourselves four days to get up to this first golf tournament, but it’s just going to make traveling so much easier where I can put as much stuff as I want underneath the bus. Golf equipment, whatever I need is going to be there every time I go to a golf course or go to a golf tournament.
“It’s going to make things a lot easier. The driving side of it, it’s going to be pretty tough, but the way my schedule is and the way my schedule is going to look, it’s going to be very hit and miss, and it might be one week on, three weeks off type deal.
“For us to be able to do it as a family, too, I think that means a lot more. You know, I feel very lucky that my girls are over here with me and allowing me to get back to playing golf, and hopefully playing golf at a good enough level that we’re all happy with."
As to how he sees his game a present Lyle spoke with confidence about the progress he has made of late in his practice sessions.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement. Sandy (coach Sandy Jamieson) has seen a lot of improvement in my golf swing, so I’ve been working really hard at it to make sure it’s going to be in a spot that can be competitive.
“Whether it’s going to be competitive when I get out there, I don’t know until I play golf tournaments, and that’s been the hardest thing through this whole ordeal is I haven’t been able to play golf tournaments because of how it would affect my medical exemption over here in America.
“I always said that I wanted to leave some events up my sleeve to come and play when I got back to the States, and we’ve targeted these three events purely because they’re close together. Knoxville was a tournament that I’d won at before; Springfield you need to shoot about 24 under to win, so it’s going to be a good test to see it’s almost like a shootout, so you can be a little bit more aggressive and see where your golf game is at a little bit more, as well.
“There’s no guessing behind choosing these tournaments. It was all sort of calculated in my head why I wanted to go to those ones, and we’re just looking forward to getting back out there and having a crack and seeing if my golf game and my golf swing is good enough at the moment to compete with everybody."
Lyle was asked as to what he would deem success in his comeback.
“Success for me at the moment is just to be able to play golf again. Whether that success leads to me keeping my status on the PGA TOUR, that would be probably my ultimate goal because I’m a person who’s never kept my status on the PGA TOUR. I’ve always had to either go through Q school and get it back or go through the Web.com TOUR and get it back. I think that would be a massive achievement if I was able to do that.
“I feel like I should have been able to do that years before, but I haven’t done it, and I think that would be the biggest, I guess, measure of success for me would be able to go out there and keep my status on the PGA TOUR.
“I know I’ve got 20 events to make $283,000 to make that happen. It’s not very often you get the luxury of knowing how many tournaments you play and how much money you have to make, so I’d love to knock that off as early as possible. But if it takes me 19 or 20 events to get it done, as long as I get it done, then to me that’s a success.”
Lyle anticipates a return to playing PGA Tour events in the early part of the 2015 season although given the wrap around nature of the new look PGA Tour the first of those will be in California at the Frys.Com event in October and in Las Vegas in October at the Shriners Hospitals for Children event where there will no doubt be much synergy with sponsor given his own plight as a youngster first contracting leukaemia.
“I think well, at the moment I’m relying on invites to the first couple I’m playing, so I’ve written away to Vegas, and they have extended an invite to me. I’m hoping that the Fry’s will do the same thing, but again, I’m not going to find that out until September.
“I am not going to go and write away to 20 events to see if I can get 20 starts. I think that would be a bit crazy to do that. I will be I guess I’m in a position where I can be a little bit picky and choosy with the tournaments I go and play.
“I want to obviously go back to LA where I’ve had my best finish ever and go back there, but because all those tournaments on the West Coast get really, really good fields, it’s going to be difficult for me to know which ones I’m going to get into.
“You can probably choose Pebble and San Diego as two almost givens, but with the way that the Web.com TOUR is structured there, their playoff series now, the start of this year where they had no Q school and it was all sort of flipped and flopped around, there was a lot of guys that didn’t get starts because of this new wraparound season that guys wanted to come out and play.
“There’s still a lot of unknowns with regards to which tournaments I’m going to get into, but it’s going to be very hit and miss, probably more miss than hit a lot of the time, but if I get 12, 13 events on the main TOUR next year, I’ll be very happy with that, and then I can just finish off the next lot of them the following year.”
Lyle gained a lot of support when he returned to tournament golf at the Talisker Masters last November and made the cut in what was an impressive cameo appearance. He also played the Victorian Open.
His journey has been an heroic one and one that all will be hoping has a very happy ending.